Enthusiastic cricket fans cheered every ball at the Gaddafi Stadium yesterday as Peshawar Zalmi beat Quetta Gladiators by 58 runs to win the second edition of the Pakistan Super League.
Pakistan had tightened security in Lahore ahead of the hugely anticipated final in the wake of a recent spike in violence, but authorities would be relieved the match was played in festive atmosphere and was completed without a hitch.
Citing security fears, some high-profile foreign players such as former England captain Kevin Pietersen, who plays for the Quetta team, had decided to skip the final.
But West Indian World Cup winner Darren Sammy, who skippered Peshawar, was on the field, and he even led a team dance after Zalmi, aided by Kamran Akmal’s 40, coasted to victory in a low scoring match. Sammy himself had blasted 28 off 11 balls to help his team score a respectable 148 for 6.
Quetta Gladiators won the toss and inserted Peshawar Zalmi in, who were without their star player Shahid Afridi who was ruled out of the final due to a finger injury. Kamran Akmal and David Malan put on a 42-run opening stand before Malan was snapped up by Rayad Emrit. Kamran held firm and at 82/1 after 9.5 overs, Peshawar Zalmi looked set for a big total.
However, Peshawar Zalmi lost their way when Kamran was trapped LBW for 40 by Hasan Khan while Marlon Samuels was bowled by Mohamed Nawaz for 19. In the next four overs, Peshawar Zalmi managed just eight runs and the situation became dire for them when Emrit picked up two wickets in the 17th over to reduce them to 112/6.
Skipper Sammy changed the complexion of the match as he slammed a six and a four in the 19th over as Emrit conceded 18. In the last over, Sammy launched two sixes off Anwar Ali as Peshawar Zalmi finished on a more respectable 148/6.
In response, Quetta Gladiators got off to a horror start as they were reduced to 37/5 in 7.2 overs. Sean Ervine and Anwar Ali steadied the ship with a 35-run stand, with Ervine going past 3000 Twenty20 runs in the process. However, Mohammad Asghar struck twice in the 13th over to finish with magnificent figures of 4-0-16-3 as Peshawar Zalmi closed in on a win.
Chris Jordan and Wahab Riaz struck after the final strategic time-out and Hasan Ali chipped in with the last wicket as Quetta Gladiators were bowled out for 90 to give Peshawar Zalmi a grand victory in front of their adoring fans.
Over 10,000 security personnel been deployed for the final, and it was a grand occasion with several performances from rock bands and other artists lighting up the occasion.
The Pakistan Super League chairman, Najam Sethi, also thanked the Punjab police and the army for providing the arrangements. Meher Muhamed Khalil, the heroic bus driver who had rescued the Sri Lankan team when it was attacked, was in attendance and he got a rousing reception from the packed stadium.
Scores in brief:
Peshawar Zalmi 148/6: Kamran Akmal 40, Darren Sammy 28 beat Quetta Gladiators 90 all out in 16.3 overs: S.M. Ervine 24, Sarfraz Ahmed 22 (Mohamed Asghar 3/16)
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